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Havard Referencing Style PDF Print E-mail


In academic writing referring to other authors idea is inevitable. It is therefore critical that writer should learn how to acknowledge the sources they refer to lest their work may be dismissed as an outright reproduction of another person’s idea. Referencing is the style employed by writers to acknowledge others sources other than their own. Besides supporting an idea, references project the writer as a person who has thoroughly researched on the subject. Referencing indicates where the writer has borrowed another person’s idea thus the reader can refer to the original source for more details or if the reader doubt the credibility of the information. An academic work that falls short of citation commits an offence referred to as plagiarism. To avoid plagiarism here are a number of accepted referencing styles. One of these styles is Harvard referencing style, which is a collection of rules and standards aimed at standardizing the order and content of reference information without altering the format or page layout.

Citation is necessary when a writer paraphrase, copy, quote or summarize another person’s words or piece of writing. To make referencing easier and accurate, a writer is advised to record the details of the work referred to noting down the author, year of publication, publisher, and place of publication, title of the book and whether the book is an edition. An in-text citation is provided every time a writer refers to another source in the course of writing.  A citation may be a direct quote or a paraphrase. For direct quote, the quoted words are put in inverted commas. In Harvard style, an in-text citation includes the authors surname; the year of publication and the page number where the idea is found. There are two ways of doing this. One is by enclosing the details by use of brackets at the end of the sentence, and two by incorporating the authors surname in the sentence structure and enclosing the date of publication and page numbers in the brackets.  An example of in-text citation in Francis Fukuyama book can look like this; Fakuyuma (1992, p.2) suggest that the progression of human history as a struggle between ideologies is largely at an end.

Another important area of Harvard style is in recording the reference details. A reference list is a detailed bibliography of all the sources cited in the body. A reader wishing to make clarification or to look at the cited work for more information can easily allocate it. The reference list include all the cited work but it is important to note that other material reviewed for background information and are not cited can not be included in the reference list.

To begin with, a reference list is indicated by the title ‘reference’ and the list of citation is arranged alphabetically where the alphabetical arrangement is determined by the surname or the title of the sponsoring organization incase of no explicit author. References are composed of the author, year, title and the publication information. Harvard style is differentiated by the way it deploys capitalization, punctuation and the arrangement of references details. For instance, while the other referencing style mention other names, Harvard refer only to the surname and the initials of the other names.. Using the example above, a reference list may look like this;

Fukuyama F (1992 P.2) the End of History and the Last Man, New York, Free Press.

The above example shows the format of a book. Special attention should be paid while referring to other sources like journals, electronic publication, newspaper, thesis amid the wide resource materials. It is also necessary to learn how reference book with more than one author, or, and edited books.

Of paramount importance to note is that even Harvard has a degree of variance in its rule and convention but in all showing the reader the author’s name, date of publication and the page numbers of the original source is vital. Writers should put more emphasize on referencing since it is part and parcel of academic writing. Though it may be tedious and time consuming at the beginning, with frequent practice a writer become used to referencing.



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